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Grow edibles on rooftops

Photo credit: Brisbane Times

Dr Sara Wilkinson tends a tomato crop on a rooftop above Broadway at UTS. Photo: Peter Morris

Rooftops offer a viable and sustainable space for growing edible produce

by Robin Powell

What if the greens you need for tonight’s dinner were grown on the roof of the office where you work? From a cook’s perspective this is a dream – fresh produce and no time wasted on shopping. And the advantages of urban farming extend way beyond the wellbeing of the time-poor consumer. Produce farmed on urban rooftops also contributes to reducing the heat island effect of cities, lowering summer temperatures and minimising the carbon footprint of food.

Roof garden - Photo Jardin Inspiracion - 1546347_644306198944314_987979625_n_2 copy.jpg
Roof garden – Photo Jardin Inspiracion – 1546347_644306198944314_987979625_n_2 copy.jpg

Rooftop vegetable gardens increase urban biodiversity; decrease stormwater run-off; offer psychological benefits to those involved with the garden and with fellow gardeners; and can even protect and extend the lifetime of the roof.

Interest in green roofs is growing like dandelions in spring: the City of Sydney reports an average of one development application a week for a green roof or wall. Already, 100,000 square metres is given over to green roofs across the city, and Lord Mayor Clover Moore says the City is doing all it can “to introduce more of these features into our urban landscape”.

* Roof garden - Photo Les Urbainculteurs - 1503385_633030990087111_1484373713_n copy.jpg
* Roof garden – Photo Les Urbainculteurs – 1503385_633030990087111_1484373713_n copy.jpg

Yet few are food producing. Sydney’s environmental conditions suggest an urban harvest could contribute significantly to food production. The city of Toronto, for instance, which is under snow for three or four months of the year, estimates that 10 per cent of its fresh food could be grown within the city limits.

Read the full article: Brisbane Times

Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.